If you’ve been experiencing pain in your mouth that comes and goes, it could be a cracked tooth. It’s not something to ignore, as the crack can worsen over time. Read on to learn more about the main causes and treatment of cracked teeth, so you can get back to feeling comfortable again.
What Causes Cracked Teeth?
Your teeth are strong, but they aren’t invincible. Many things can put your teeth at risk for cracks, such as grinding or clenching your jaw, eating hard food items like nuts or ice cubes, using your teeth as tools, such as opening packages, and being hit in the face. The natural ageing process causes a gradual weakening of the tooth enamel, which can put older adults at risk for dental damage. However, this heightened vulnerability largely depends on how well you care for your teeth and mouth. If you have a pre-existing dental issue, such as a large filling or weakened enamel from frequent acid exposure, this could also increase your risk of developing a crack in the tooth.
Types of Cracked Teeth
Craze lines, while they are not classified as fractures, are the least serious type of tooth cracks and are usually found in adults. These tiny hairline cracks form on the enamel layer of your teeth but do not reach your gums.
In most cases, craze lines require no treatment since they are a superficial concern. Craze lines typically don’t cause any discomfort and could only become a threat to your oral health if they worsen and reach the dentin of teeth.
To make matters worse, an uneven bite, grinding teeth, biting nails, or chewing ice can all put pressure on the enamel, which may eventually lead to craze lines.
Determining whether the crack is confined within just the enamel might be difficult for most; however, your dentist will assess both signs and symptoms before performing tests that allow them to diagnose this condition correctly.
A fractured cusp occurs when a tooth’s chewing surface fragments, commonly arising in teeth that have large dental fillings. The break may reach the gumline or even result in more serious damage to the soft tissue, the pulp of the tooth, which contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue, but it usually won’t cause any pain. In some cases, this might necessitate root canal treatment if it exposes their pulp; however, more often than not, just a new filling or crown will suffice for repairment purposes – thereby allowing you to salvage your affected tooth!
Cracks that extend from the biting surface of a tooth down to or beneath its gum line are often incomplete, meaning it does not divide into two. Fortunately, these types of cracks can be salvaged and restored with the proper care. With cracks in teeth comes the potential for irreversible damage to the fragile pulp, often resulting in a root canal treatment or tooth extraction. Here’s where it gets tricky; depending on its location and severity, treating cracked teeth can be quite intricate, making long-term success difficult – if not impossible – to foretell. Additionally, these types of breaks necessitate immediate attention to salvage your pearly whites from being lost forever!
When a crack progresses from the exterior to the root of a tooth, it is regarded as a split tooth. This type of fracture is often too significant for repair, so extraction is usually required.
In certain circumstances with multi-rooted molar teeth, however, part of the tooth can still be salvaged by extracting the affected side and performing a root canal on the rest, followed by crowning it.
Vertical root fractures
A vertical root fracture, which typically occurs in teeth that had a previous root canal treatment, begins at the base of the tooth and goes upward towards its chewing surface.
Nevertheless, this condition may be unnoticeable for many years due to minimal pain or no symptoms at all. Even so, unless an expert dentist manages to save part of your tooth by extracting its fractured root, extraction will become necessary as it is impossible to restore a vertical root fracture without surgery.
Cracked Tooth Syndrome
Cracked tooth syndrome is a type of painful tooth fracture that often escapes detection on X-rays due to its bevelled shape. The crack can occur in any part of the tooth and is commonly seen in back molars because they bear most of the force when chewing food.
Since this condition may only produce mild pain, it can be deceptive and go undetected in one’s mouth. Typically, a professional dental exam is needed to diagnose the cause of your pain and your dental history, as it might be due to other issues or even a crack that’s too small to be seen on an X-ray.
What Causes Cracked Tooth Syndrome?
Cracked tooth syndrome is caused by trauma to the teeth as well as certain habits. Chewing on hard objects, such as ice or popcorn kernels, can weaken the enamel and cause microfractures in the teeth, which later turn into cracks.
Teeth grinding at night can also contribute to CTS; this common condition weakens the tooth structure, which can lead to tooth loss. In addition, ageing and general wear and tear can cause your enamel to become weaker and, thus, more prone to cracking.
Cracked Tooth Symptoms
A cracked tooth can lead to pain and sensitivity and can sometimes cause other unpleasant symptoms, such as earaches, headaches, and even a sore jaw. It is essential to recognise the signs of a broken tooth in order to treat it before infection can set in.
In some cases, the crack will be extremely visible and obvious, while in others, you may only experience sensitivity when eating or drinking cold or hot beverages. Irregularities with your bite may be an indication that you have damaged a tooth too. If any of these symptoms apply to you, it is best to see a dentist for professional advice and treatment as soon as possible.
Cracked Tooth Diagnosis
Your dentist can diagnose a cracked tooth by closely examining the area with various tests. This may include an X-ray to see how severe the crack is or biting down on gauze to locate sources of irritation and sensitivity.
Your dentist may also take measurements of your gum line to determine if any shifts have occurred due to the cracking of the tooth.
What Are The Treatment Options?
The type of treatment will depend on how severe the crack is and where it is located with other structures like nearby fillings and gums.
Minor cracks can often be addressed with just bonding material or by covering it with a crown or porcelain or ceramic cap, like veneers, if necessary.
Dental filling materials can be used to strengthen the tooth and seal off any exposed nerve endings.
Root canal therapy
For more severe cases, root canal therapy may be necessary before placing a crown on top of the tooth to protect it from further damage.
In some cases where there has been too much damage done, extraction may be recommended instead. However, that can be sorted by a dental implant that can replace your missing teeth with a new natural look.
Steps to Take After Treatment to Protect Your Teeth
After you’ve had treatment for a cracked tooth, taking the necessary steps to protect your teeth is crucial.
Making sure to brush and floss twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly for checkups helps keep your oral health in top shape.
It’s also important to avoid eating hard, crunchy, or sticky foods if possible since these can put extra pressure on your teeth and may cause further damage.
Consuming a balanced diet filled with plenty of nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, and dairy, can help guard your smile against future issues.
Taking these key steps ensures that you are able to enjoy a healthy, strong smile for years to come.
The best way to avoid cracked teeth is prevention by taking proper care of your oral health and avoiding activities that could damage your enamel, such as chewing on hard objects.
Additionally, visiting your dentist regularly for checkups will help identify any potential problems before they become serious issues. Lastly, wearing a night guard while sleeping can help protect against grinding, which could lead to cracking or fracturing of the teeth over time.
A cracked tooth should not be ignored as it can cause pain and other issues if left untreated for too long. Fortunately, cracks can generally be treated fairly easily with bondings or crowns depending on their severity and location within your mouth.
Time is critical when it comes to diagnosing and treating a cracked tooth; swift action leads to optimal results.
So, if you think you have a cracked tooth, make sure to reach out to My Local Dentists (previously Leichhardt Marketplace Dental) by calling on (02) 9100 0188 for a professional diagnosis and treatment. With some proper care from our expert dentists in one of our five clinics, you’ll be able to get back to enjoying your smile in no time!
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
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